Lady Panthers ranked preseason number one ahead of California opener

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Drury Lady Panthers tip-off their quest for a national title Friday in California.

On Wednesday, we said they would do it as the number two team in the country.

After Thursday, however, we can move them up to number one.

Division Two’s coaches’ poll dropped Thursday, placing the Drury Women as the number one team in the country.

The team that beat them in the semifinals last year, Lubbock Christian, came in at number two.

That’s in contrast to Wednesday’s SID poll that had Lubbock one and Drury two.

Polls aside, the Lady Panthers get underway with the CCA Tipoff Classic in California with a game on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Earlier this week, they said this trip is vital for setting the season’s tone and identifying areas of improvement.

“It’s going to be a big tough competition in California, but I think it’s going to be a good eye opener for us,” senior forward Hailey Diestelkamp said. “We’ll see what we actually have.”

“We’re going to play some good teams that are going to test us a lot early this season,” senior guard Daejah Bernard said. “I think that’s what this team needs is to be tested and to see how we perservere from that.”

“Something that’s really good for us: we play three games in three days and it’s so early we can learn a lot about ourselves early,” Head Coach Molly Miller said. “We can come back here and kind of tweak and look at game film and understand where we need to improve. That’s going to be the advantage of California.”

Drury opens competition against Simon Fraser on Friday before facing 12th ranked West Texas A&M on Saturday and Montana State-Billings Sunday.

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