Faith plays large role for Missouri volleyball team's libero

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | 9:25 p.m. CDT
Missouri senior Caitlyn Vann sets a ball during practice at the Hearnes Center. The tattoos on Vann's arms are reminders of her faith, which Vann says has helped her both on and off the volleyball court.

COLUMBIA — Thy will, not mine, be done.

If you look closely when Caitlyn Vann pushes up the sleeves of her volleyball uniform, you will see that phrase tattooed in Hebrew, the original language of the Bible, on her right forearm.

After taking an introduction to religious studies class that looked at the Bible in a historical context, Vann, a senior libero for Missouri, began thinking more about her faith.

“I liked the whole concept behind it because I believe everything happens for a reason. To me, it’s, ‘Thy will, not mine, be done.'" Vann said. “There’s always a bigger plan. Just go with it and things will work themselves out.”

Vann has another tattoo of the numbers 31:49.

“It’s Genesis 31:49, ‘May the Lord watch between me and you when we are absent one from another,'” Vann said.

For Vann, the verse has special significance. She was adopted when she was just four days old. Her birth mother gave her a Saint Christopher charm with 31:49 imprinted on it, referring to that verse. When Vann thinks about the verse, she not only thinks about her birth mother but also her friends and adoptive family that are six hours away at her home in Indiana.

Even though Vann didn’t grow up with a strong faith, she said she now sees how everything has happened for a reason in her life, both off and on the court.

Her adoptive parents would send her birth parents photos of her as she was growing up. It just so happened that Vann’s birth aunt taught at her school, and the two developed a close bond. Then, when Vann was in eighth grade, she traveled to Atlanta to meet her birth mother and siblings for the first time. They live just 10 minutes from Vann’s adoptive mother’s side of the family, and she still keeps in close contact with them.

Vann describes her birth family as very religious, while she said her adoptive parents, who are professors at Ball State, are atheists.

“My parents don’t really influence me,” Vann said. “I look to my peers and my own findings." 

One of those peers is Juliann Faucette, an outside hitter for No. 11 Texas. The two met at a volleyball camp they attended during their junior year. Ever since then, Faucette has been an inspiration for Vann because she often talks about her faith and how God influences her play.

Vann also discusses her faith with her Missouri teammates, and senior Julianna Klein said that Vann will often invite teammates to go to church with her.

"She invites us, but she doesn't say, 'You have to believe this'," Klein said. "It's an internal thing for her."

Klein said that she has seen change and growth in Vann since her faith started developing.

At the beginning of this season, Vann was struggling with the libero position. There was competition for the spot, which upset Vann, because it was her senior season.

“I feel like everything happens for a reason,” Vann said. “I worked my butt off and ended up getting Big 12 Player of the Week a couple weeks later, and getting that spot.”

In the most basic respect, Vann describes her faith as a relationship with God. And that relationship inspires her play on the court.

“I feel like you play to glorify God,” Vann said. “That always reflects in my play.”

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