JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Hilltopper junior Autumn Holmes has only been playing volleyball for a few seasons. But, somehow, it feels like it’s been much longer than that.

“Something about it, I just fell for it instantly,” she said. “It just came natural.”

She first tried it out in eighth grade alongside playing soccer. Soon after, volleyball became the main focus.

“I was just so interested, and I haven’t lost the interest, at all. I just want to know more and more,” she said.

Her passion for the sport has only grown stronger since joining the varsity squad as a freshman.

“I think they just push me, and they’ve all been so supportive,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anyone else as my teammates.”

But Holmes is more than just passionate about the game, she excels at it. The Topper ranks third in the entire country with 664 kills this season, according to the site MaxPreps.

“I was first for like a week, and then a girl got in front of me,” Holmes said.

Despite a padded stat sheet, she still wants more.

“I just want to be first; I just want to keep getting better,” she said. “There’s something that doesn’t sit right with me when I’m not pushing myself, like if I go to practice and I’m not trying to be the best I can, I feel like I got nothing out of that practice.”

This week, Holmes is helping push her team towards a state tournament appearance, but the outside hitter does plenty for the community off the court. Those activities include packing food donations with her teammates and other Science Hill student-athletes for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee.

“Being with other teams and doing that just makes it feel much more important, it feels like the whole school is in it with you,” she said of the experience. “I feel like that’s pretty important to us.”

She also served as an instructor for the Junior Toppers Volleyball camp this past summer. It’s a job she found both fun and fulfilling.

“I just have to remember there’s other little girls and boys that are looking up to us,” she said. “I think having a positive attitude and being well-rounded and telling them they can do it. You will be here one day – this is your future.”

As a junior, Holmes’ own future is still up in the air. She has a desire to continue playing volleyball at the collegiate level but doesn’t quite know where.

She does know one thing.

“My goal is to leave something at this school, to make an impact,” she said. “I just want to leave an impact on the school and players and Coach Cook and just know that I helped and did something here.”