Osaka, Japan, June 10, 2018 - Poland are plenty big and they're proving plenty hard to beat, too, adding to their FIVB Volleyball Nations League win tally on Sunday with a 3-1 (25-21, 24-26, 25-18, 25-19) result over Italy that saw Dawid Konarski's 18 points top an all-round team effort.
While the Poles moved their record to 8-1 and have found many ways to score across three rounds of the VNL so far, their defence has been outstanding. Veteran opposite spiker Konarski put the flourishes on the points table but the hard work he also put in fending off the Bulgarians was super impressive.
He combined with powerhouse middle blocker Piotr Nowakowski (eight points) at the net for a combined seven blocks and Poland's 12 in total double their opponents'.
The reigning world champions are proving some unit and the fact that the VNL is the 21-year-old wing spiker Bartosz Kwolek's first tour with the Polish team shows that fans can expect more improvement to come as we turn towards the business end of the tournament.
Bulgaria have toiled long and hard across their three matches in Japan, beatings the hosts and taking a set off - but losing to - both Italy and now Poland. Wing spiker Rozalin Penchev was gallant in defeat and more than matched it at the net with the Polish tall timber but overall his team were outmatched.
Bulgaria (3-6) leave Japan and head home to Varna where they will line-up against France, Canada and Brazil from June 15. They'll be hoping that home support will help them find more consistency and allow them to take a few more wins away from the VNL.
For the reigning world champions, though, things could hardly seem brighter. Poland are on 8-1, riding high at the top of the table - and will no doubt be looking forward to a trip to Chicago where they'll line up from the 15th against Iran, and also powerhouses Serbia and the United States.