LOS ANGELES — It was an awkward time of the year to be playing a non-conference opponent so the Occidental College women's volleyball team used it as an opportunity to get its bench some experience.
All 13 Tigers played at least one set and Dana Michels (Kirkland, Wash.) and Alyssa Mort (Tucson, Ariz.) had efficient hitting nights — combining for seven kills on 10 attempts with no errors — but Oxy couldn't keep up with NAIA Cal State San Marcos, losing in three sets at Rush Gymnasium on Friday 25-18, 25-11, 25-23.
Michels was 4 for 6 in the middle and Mort went 3 for 4 as the opposite.
"They made smart, aggressive choices during long rallies," Occidental coach Heather Collins said.
It didn't matter. Taylor DeGraaf had a match-high 11 kills and Nichole May and Erin Talafus each had nine to lead the Cougars (19-11), a scholarship school just north of the San Diego area. CSU San Marcos hit .287 as a team and racked up 11 service aces.
"We came into this match knowing we were facing a tough team and that we wanted to use it as a chance to try some different lineups and get our bench some experience," Collins said.
The Tigers (15-8) had their best showing in Game 3. Stephanie Gann (Tacoma, Wash.) had one of her team-high seven kills to tie the score at 17 and a block to bring Oxy within two, 24-22. But May crushed an attack just inside the back line to end the set and the match two points later.
Oxy's Sarah Beene (Gilbert, Ariz.) had two kills, eight assists and four digs.
Oxy doesn't have much time to worry about the loss. The Tigers have a doubleheader Saturday, beginning with UC Santa Cruz at 1 p.m. in Rush Gymnasium.
"We have two more non-conference matches tomorrow, the first against UC Santa Cruz, a key West-Region opponent," Collins said. "We need to bounce back quickly and get after it tomorrow."