Tabor was ranked third with three first-place votes in the KCAC preseason volleyball poll last week.
The conference coaches anticpate a logjam at the top, awarding multiple first-place votes to Bethel (first place, 85 total points), Kansas Wesleyan (second, 84), Tabor (third, 80) and Bethany (fourth, 76).
The 20-point gap between Bethany and fifth-place Friends suggests the final standings may be as top-heavy as any in the past four years.
In 2007, the top four teams went 58-32 against the conference while the bottom four went 33-57.
But as disparate as the 2007 final standings were, the conference has in recent seasons showed more parity than 2005, when Tabor and Bethel were at the pinnacle of dominance. Both went 17-1, and four teams won 60 conference matches combined.
Among the indications that some of the lower-tier teams are increasingly competitive is the emergence of Bethany, which broke into the conference?s elite group last season. The Swedes placed second after being picked seventh.
But for some at the bottom, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Southwestern has not beaten a conference opponent since 2004, and predictably, was picked last.
2008 KCAC Preseason
1. Bethel (2) 85
2. Kansas Wesleyan (3) 84
3. Tabor (3) 80
4. Bethany (2) 76
5. Friends 56
6. Saint Mary 47
7. Sterling 43
8. Ottawa 41
9. McPherson 24
10. Southwestern 14