Another Preakness distraction: beach volleyball in the Infield

May 21, 2011|By Matt Vensel

One of the many competitions taking place in the Infield at Pimlico today -- along with the bikini contest, a 64-team cornhole tournament and some kind of competitive eating event you couldn't pay me to watch -- is the National Volleyball League’s inaugural event. It was created after the AVP tour ran out of money, I'm told.

The 16-team double-elimination tournament, the first of the new beach volleyball tour’s six-stop season, started at Baltimore’s Rash Field on Friday and is wrapping up at the Preakness as I type this blog post.

You would think these bikini-clad women would be distracted by the sounds coming from the track, the loud rock music and the catcalls of frat boys who are many mugs deep. But Heather Hughes, playing on her first professional beach volleyball tour, said the Preakness is an “awesome” place to hold an event.

“We couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere,” she said while watching the finals. “I mean, it’s the Preakness. The fans are awesome and the people are great, and that makes it a lot of fun for us.”

Hughes and her partner, Emily Day, finished fifth in the tournament. When the finals were over, she plans on venturing into the Infield to check out the party and maybe place a couple of bets.

“I’m going to enjoy everything Preakness has to offer,” the Southern California native said with a grin.

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