Avy and Saad Provincial Champions
By Nishaan Sodhi
When you win, it makes for a phenomenal story. When you win again the story grows and it gets better. But it’s when you not only win, but stay undefeated for an entire year, people start to notice.
The story of this year’s Ontario Beach Volleyball Championships was one of two 14 year old middle school students. While most kids their age are gearing up for high school, Saad Shaikh and Avy Bath are busy preparing for volleyball tournaments. They spend each week day training in the summer. On the weekends they reap the rewards. In fact, the challenge this time around wasn’t even the part about winning.
“It was interesting to see how the guys would do after all of their success,” says Coach Jessy Satti. “A lot of the time, especially in the younger age groups, kid’s let the success get in their head. Or even worse, they get down on themselves when things change and don’t go their way.”
Avy and Saad did just fine. Due to point differential*, the duo came into the tournament ranked second despite not dropping a single set the entire season. It seemed this was all set to change as Saad and Avy were down 12-18 in the first set of the provincial finals. Their opponents
were coming off a close semi-final victory against Saad and Avy’s Pakmen teammates and were full of confidence going into the match.
Avy and Saad didn’t let this phase them. They pulled off seven straight points en route to a 21-19 victory. In the second set they would cruise to a 21-16 victory and keep their 2014 Beach undefeated streak alive.
“The boys really stayed focused, even when they were down,” says Satti. “They stuck to the basics, passing and serving, and didn’t let their emotions get to them.”
When asked about their come back in the first set, the team is quick to divert the praise.
“Our indoor coach, Mr. Smith, really taught us to fight back,” says Shaikh. “With the lessons that we learned from him throughout the year, giving up was never an option.”
This is the second year in a row that Avy and Saad have won the prestigious event. Last year, they were the 13U provincial championships.
With the win, Saad and Avy become the 5th Pakmen team in six years that has won the 14U beach provincial championships.
It’s been quite a year for Saad Sheikh and Avy Bath. The 14 year old David Leeder Middle School students are coming off a provincial championship, and are already looking ahead to Canada’s National Championships. Being motivated as ever, the team is determined to be Canada’s best team.
With Nationals coming up in a few weeks, it is safe to say that their volleyball story is far from over.
*The OVA ranks teams based on how many points they have. By competing in an older division, teams can accumulate more points. E.g. First place in 14U could be worth 100 points, while fifth place in 15U would be worth 150 points.