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“I will protect your backs!”– Nishinoya Yuu, Chapter 41 Page 17
Nishinoya Yuu forms the strongest defense especially when Daichi joins the back row in the court.
As the libero who is prohibited to take part in the mid-air battle and is mainly focussing on keeping the ball from falling to the ground, the pressure of making a mistake in the one thing you can do and missing it is much bigger than when someone else can’t receive the ball.
Since Nishinoya is always seen as someone who criticises himself a lot, trying to perfect his reaction time and receives as much a possible and doesn’t see his actual value in the game as seen when he spoke to Yaku after their first practice match, it’s even more meaningful that someone like him utters those very words we are focussing on today.
“I will protect your backs”, what does it mean to protect ones back in general?
As the back is the weakness of every human since our eyes cannot fully perceive what is going on behind us.
We tend to be more vulnerable from behind, our senses are much more focussed what is going on in front of us instead behind us.
That’s why we get easily startled for example when someone suddenly approaches from behind when we are not expecting it.
In Volleyball the eyes are focussed on the ball which is something that happens in front of you, but there are times where the ball takes another course and suddenly you cannot see it anymore.
The big court which one cannot ensure to cover fully is a place shared with five other people apart from oneself, but that little and obvious detail is something forgotten so easily when actually playing on the court.
Every mistake seems like it’s oneself’s fault for not engaging enough with the ball, not reacting in time or like in the case of blocking or receiving not being able to either read the opponents move or just being slightly off balance.
For Karasuno this is mostly the case but especially Nishinoya who is the core of their defense is someone who can only blame himself for not receiving while it’s his main reason for being on the court.
Now what does that again have to do with protecting one’s back?
We already established that the back is a weakness, that’s why the phrase “backstabbing someone” means without realizing or expecting it someone betrayed you since the back is the place where you easily oversee things or not expect them.
In Volleyball when the ball moves quickly and gets behind one, the time to react shortens as turning around and having to re-adjust to another position makes it difficult to handle it afterwards.
Nishinoya who is always in the back as he switches in and off the court a lot of times, and is not as free in his plays as the other players who can engage in many other things besides receiving.
When someone serves the possibility of the ball landing behind one’s back is big, it could come to anybody of the six players.
But with Nishinoya already building up his trust with his teammates and proving them every time that he is someone they can rely on when it comes to receiving, that one sentence can only be said by him and heave that heavy burden.
“I will protect your backs!”, he did it already many times and no matter what will come he will keep doing so as the libero and guardian of Karasuno, the core defense along with Daichi.
When the ball falls behind them, he will be there to receive it.
Yet sometimes the pressure let’s them forget that there is always someone there to back up when it gets crucial.
That’s why Nishinoya keeps reminding his teammates that no matter how severe a serve seems, no matter what strong spikers may come, the vulnerable parts of the team will be protected by the one and only person everyone trusts – the libero who will receive any ball that comes his way.