It is an inside joke in the Haikyuu!! fandom that every fan has a favorite setter. A setter is the tower of control for a volleyball team. The setter gets to touch the ball the most and dictates the flow of the game. In the series, the setter is often compared to the conductor of an orchestra.
However, not all setters are of equal power. While all of them occupy their own special space in the hearts of fans, some are canonically said to be better than others.
There is often a debate in the fandom as to who is the best setter in Haikyuu!!. Although it varies from match to match, the statistics given in the official manga somewhat help to determine it.
Disclaimer: This article contains minor spoilers from Haikyuu!! manga and major spoilers from the anime.
Kageyama, Atsumu, Oikawa, and 7 more pre-timeskip Haikyuu!! setters ranked based on stats
The official stats consider six attributes in total and mark them out of five points each, culminating in a total of 30 points. The attributes are Power, Speed, Jump, Stamina, Strategy/Intellect, and Technique/Game Sense.
This list considers only the setters who have featured in a prolonged game in the anime or the manga, thus not listing Michiru Usuri (20 points, ranked 11) from Mujinazaka High, and Tamahiko Teshiro (20 points, ranked 10) from Nekoma.
10) Echigo Sakae
Echigo Sakae is the captain and setter of the Tsubakihara Academy volleyball team. He is technically ranked 12 according to the stats, but considering the exposure factor, he is the 10th-best setter on this list.
Echigo is not as remarkable as some others on this list, but he relies on his strength and reason during the match.
Echigo and his team goes head-to-head with Karasuno in their first match of the Spring Nationals. Echigo shines more as a captain than as a setter, but his smooth setter-dump is calm and calculating, giving his team a much-needed break.
9) Kenjiro Shirabu
Kenjiro Shirabu is known for being salty and subtle on the court. Despite being a second year, he appears in Haikyuu!! as Shiratorizawa Academy’s starting setter.
According to his team and himself, he is inferior to Semi Eita in skills, but his devotion to Ushijima and lack of drive to shine alone have made him ideal for the team.
Shirabu is calm and collected while handling the ball but hot-headed and sarcastic elsewhere. He has a remarkable tendency to put others before himself on the court, something he displays most during the second set in their match against Karasuno.
8) Itaru Shiramine
Itaru Shiramine is the setter and captain of Sarukawa Tech volleyball club. Despite having high stats, Shiramine is not very memorable as a setter. However, he displayed his intellect against Nekoma by realizing that Kenma had been playing them throughout the whole match.
In the Haikyuu!! canon, Shiramine is known to defer to his coach more than trusting his own judgment. He and his team had planned to tire out Kenma during their game against Nekoma but were outsmarted by him instead.
7) Eita Semi
Eita Semi is a third-year student at Shiratorizawa who plays as the pinch server and back-up setter.
Semi is widely believed to be more skilled than Shirabu. However, his need for individual recognition and implied failure to follow the coach’s orders have demoted him to a pinch-server role.
Semi is an exceptionally good jump-server and often scores service aces. He is physically sturdy. This means he uses a decent amount of force behind his serves, which even Daichi had trouble digging up occasionally.
6) Aikichi Suwa
Aikichi Suwa is the starting setter and captain of the Kamomedai High volleyball team. He is a calm and gentle setter but is also quite aggressive. His float serve is very controlled, allowing him to drop it exactly where he wants.
Suwa is also considerate of the other team, as shown when he plays against Karasuno. He is an expert at handling his more eccentric teammates, such as Korai Hoshiumi.
Suwa excels as a setter and a captain and can pick out the opponent’s habits accurately.
5) Keiji Akaashi
Keiji Akaashi is Fukurodani Academy’s vice-captain and starting setter.
Undoubtedly one of the best setters in Haikyuu!!, Akaashi is calm, collected, and reasonable, with a keen mind. To date, he is the only setter to have reverse-dumped Kageyama and outsmarted Kenma on court.
However, Akaashi’s strength lies in his ability to read and handle his captain and ace, Bokuto. He can use Bokuto to his advantage and knows his every tell thoroughly.
Akaashi does not go into professional volleyball, however, likely knowing that his success rate with another spiker will not satisfy him.
4) Tsukasa Iizuna
Tsukasa Iizuna is the captain and starting setter of Itachiyama Institute’s volleyball team. While Haikyuu!! manga does not feature Izuna enough pre-timeskip, he is one of the three setters on this list to have made it into V-1 League post-timeskip. According to the post-timeskip stats, Izuna ranks fourth amongst the best setters.
Izuna is hardworking and determined, not letting things like injuries get him down easily. He won the Best Setter award in Junior Olympic Cup. He is also part of the All-Star line-up in the recently released “Haikyuu!! Special One-Shot: A Party Reignited.”
3) Toru Oikawa
Toru Oikawa is one of the most revered setters in Haikyuu!!, with some considering him the best setter in the series.
Oikawa is Aoba Johsai’s starting setter and captain. He is known for being able to bring the best out of any team.
Oikawa has a keen intellect and can read his teammates like an open book.
Oikawa is known for his jump serves, which most people cannot dig. He has a long-standing rivalry of sorts with Kageyama and later leaves Japan for a better opportunity.
He becomes a citizen of Argentina and is seen playing against the Japanese National Team in the final chapter of Haikyuu!!
2) Atsumu Miya
Atsumu Miya was considered the best high school setter pre-timeskip. He was first seen in the National Youth camp alongside Kageyama and later with his Inarizaki teammates.
Atsumu has similar setting attitude and style to Kageyama, lacking his perfect precision but making up for it with impeccable technique.
Atsumu can use his teammates to his advantage, but he works best with his twin brother, Osamu. With his brother, he even managed to copy Karasuno’s freak quick mid-match.
In pre-timeskip Haikyuu!!, Atsumu’s underhand set is considered to be one of the most difficult and beautiful sets.
1) Tobio Kageyama
Tobio Kageyama is Karasuno’s starting setter and the only first-year on this list. Kageyama is a natural-born genius who is also a hard worker, with unparalleled control of the ball and pinpoint precision.
Kageyama’s game sense and intellect (only on the court) remain the best of the lot during both pre and post-timeskip.
As the deuteragonist of the series, Haikyuu!! chronicles Kageyama’s growth nearly as well as Hinata’s.
Kageyama learns to read his teammates and push them to new heights without reverting back to his “King of the Court” demeanor.
By the end of the series, Kageyama is considered to be one of the best setters internationally alongside Oikawa.
Readers must consider that the stats are not reflective of how effective a setter is on the court. For example, Kenma Kozume’s stats rank him 17th amongst the setters of Haikyuu!!. However, it is universally acknowledged that he is one of the most intelligent and effective setters on the court.