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A one-man show

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Solo volleyball player has a message

By Mike Forster

  Bob Holmes rolled into Moneta with 16,000 wins under his belt.

By the time he left, he had added several more to that impressive sum.

Holmes, who is a one-man volleyball team, put on a demonstration of expertise in dispatching a trio of challenging teams at Staunton River High School Monday night.

Those opposing teams carried from five to 20 members on them.

In his first match, Holmes called for any 16-35 year old males from the good-sized audience.  Twenty aspiring netters ambled down to the court.  There, Holmes dazzled and befuddled the guys, ringing up a 15-3 lead en route to a 21-6 victory.

A group of Staunton River JV players came next.  That crew of five ladies fell by the score of 21-7.

"I thought that it was unbelievable to think that one man can beat so many people," said Rachel Whittaker, a member of the defeated River JVers.  "We thought we could beat him.  I didn't think he'd be that good."

The third group to face Holmes likely didn't count on him being so talented, either.

The headliner featured firefighters and law enforcement officers.  Holmes showed them little regard, topping them 21-11.

It was the closest match of the evening, however.  The first responders were keyed by some excellent play by two members of the Bedford County Sheriff's Office:  Allison Key and Chris Cook.

Key showed a lot of hustle, diving after Holmes's laser-like serves and dishing up some serves that were too tough for Holmes to return.

Cook made some outstanding plays at the net, but his efforts were for naught.

Bloodied, but unbowed, Deputy Key wanted more.  "We want a rematch," she said.  "He's very good, but I'm very competitive and hate to lose."

Striking a more serious pose, Key added, "The most important thing is his message."

Holmes, who was at the event at the behest of Hales Ford Baptist Church, did indeed have a message for the crowd, which was estimated at several hundred.

"Our young people are dying," he opened.  "If not by drugs, then by alcohol.  If not by alcohol, then by bullying.  If not by bullying, it's by gang fights.

"I want this generation to live."

Holmes went on to share stories of young people whose lives have been tragically altered as a result of drinking and driving.

"I have a message for NASCAR," he boomed.  "Get Budweiser off your hood."

Holmes also discussed the life and sacrifices of Jesus Christ, asking that those assembled accept him into their hearts.  "No matter your background, the Lord Jesus Christ will forgive anything," he added.

It's true that He'll forgive the trouncing that Holmes put on all challengers.

In fact, earlier in the day, the one-man machine paid a visit to the Staunton River High School assembly.

At the school, Holmes facilitated a program designed to discourage students from engaging in bullying behavior and to encourage them to avoid alcohol and drugs.

"If this is workable, we might look to bring it to all of our schools," said Sergeant David Mays, of the Bedford County Sheriff's Office.  Mays is in charge of the School Resource Officer program for the county.

Mays added, "We need ways to give kids tools to know what to do when they see bullying going on."

Mays was also stated that, at this point, he was looking at what Holmes had to offer strictly on a "wait-and-see" basis.

Meanwhile, Holmes also dominated in exhibition play against some of the Golden Eagles' top athletes.

He even allowed the students to pack their end of the court with dozens and dozens of guys.  All was to no avail.

Of course, a player as talented as Holmes is only going to be beaten by a combination of skill, savvy and luck.  After all, he's beaten the likes of the Minnesota Vikings, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Miami Dolphins, the Washington Redskins, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Baltimore Orioles (led by Cal Ripken) and the Buffalo Bills.

(By the way, any cracks along the lines of "Hey, that's not a big deal, EVERYBODY beats the Buffalo Bills" are not appreciated by your reporter.)

Holmes, who has made numerous appearances, including on CNN, has also been featured in "Ripley's Believe it or Not."

Seeing him so easily dismantle huge teams could make one shake his head and say, "I don't believe it, Ripley."

Yet, seeing is believing.

And, if you listen to Holmes's message closely enough, there are more important things in which to believe.  And you need to see nothing in order to do so.