In the ninth episode, we get to see whether Haruka and Kanata’s practice with Marissa paid off as the qualifiers for the nationals arrive. There also happens to be something that will make getting into the nationals just a little bit more difficult.
After resolving the drama between Kanata and Narumi last time, the beach volleyball club is hard at work practicing in preparation for the qualifiers. HaruKana have really improved, almost certainly courtesy of Marissa’s coaching. Haruka’s blocks have improved, and she is able to hit different types of spikes now.
Whilst HaruKana and Éclair were practicing, Akari was getting the tournament chart for the qualifiers. However, she remains absent for quite a while, and that’s because she has discovered something about the qualifiers that has got her worried. Fearing that the beach volleyball club may be torn apart due to that, she decides to get some advice from a familiar face.
Akari got Ayasa’s phone number from Haruka the other day, so she calls her for some advice. She tells Ayasa about her concerns – Narumi hears as well. Narumi tells her that though everyone is working hard, it is a competition. Ayasa encourages Akari to tell the others how she truly feels, whether it is through words or actions. Akari takes that advice on board, and comes up with an idea.
Akari tells the others that only one team from Okinawa will be able to go through to the nationals, which means that HaruKana will have to take on Éclair at some point during the qualifiers. Since she wouldn’t know who to cheer for, she made everyone scrunchies to show her support.
As you might expect, Akari is pretty much worrying over nothing – both Claire and Haruka effectively tell her that. She has a good old cry afterwards. After calming down, Akari suggests that they hold a beach party once the qualifiers are over. Everyone agrees to it.
The day of the qualifiers arrive, and the girls bump into a couple of familiar faces right at the beginning. Ai is helping out with refereeing for the qualifier. After a quick chat with the pair, it is time for the beach volleyball to begin.
Both HaruKana and Éclair easily make it through the first round of qualifiers. For the second round, HaruKana will be facing a pair that once lost to Éclair.
Youna is very eager to challenge Claire and Emily, even bringing a letter of challenge along. However, there is the small matter of them having to beat HaruKana before they can even face Éclair – something Haruka is quick to point out.
During the match, the Aragaki sisters realise that Haruka’s blocking is a lot like Claire. They have a secret weapon they had been saving, but they decide to bring it out during this match – it is topspin.
Ultimately, though, HaruKana claim victory – with Haruka showing that she knows when she can rely on her partner.
HaruKana win the match, and advance to the finals of the qualifiers. The Aragaki sisters take their loss gracefully, and swear to make it to nationals next year.
Moving one step closer to nationals, Haruka and Kanata have one final obstacle to overcome before they can get there.
That brings this episode to an end. It was half Akari, and half beach volleyball, and I enjoyed all of it.
Akari is a sweet lass. I do like her a lot, but Haruka remains my number one character here. Still got to give Akari her dues, though. She has proven to be a very good addition to the cast thus far, and will probably remain that way for the rest of the season.
As for the beach volleyball part of this episode, it was very satisfying seeing how much HaruKana has improved compared to their previous matches – Haruka in particular. I don’t know the exact regime that Marissa put them through, but it certainly paid off. Haruka relying on Kanata for that last point in the match against the Aragaki sisters was a great moment.
Talking of the Aragaki sisters, they’re all right I suppose. They are pretty much just Emily and Claire all over again, but not quite as good. When it comes down to it, they are just a pair of characters there to be beaten on the path to the main attraction. Of course, the main attraction is HaruKana vs. Éclair, which I imagine we will be seeing next week.
The Aragaki sisters aren’t exactly the most compelling characters, but everything else about this episode was pretty good in the end. Akari keeps growing on me more with every episode – and I already liked her from her introduction – and the beach volleyball is just as fun to watch as ever.