Horndean lost their National League division two south opener 3-1 at Richmond after a hotly-contested match.
The Deans, who travelled to London without a couple of key players, were punished for a lacklustre performance in defence and a misfiring service unit.
They crumbled for the first time at Kingston Arena after the home side put them under pressure with the serve from the start, winning the opening set 25-22.
Horndean bounced back with a thumping 25-13 second-set victory, after showing glimpses of the scintillating form that saw them finish a respectable second in both last season’s league and National Shield.
However, Richmond fired on all cylinders to clinch the last two sets 25-22 and 25-23 respectively and ensure victory.
It was a disappointing start for new skipper Leandros Tsikras.
He said: ‘I know we are a bit rusty and were missing a few players but dispite all that, we still had the capacity to win the match had we received and served well.
‘As a setter, it’s difficult for me to run the game without good reception.
‘They targeted our weak receivers and we also gave away points through reckless serves.
‘All I can say is that the blocking was great but we need to sharpen up as quickly as possible or else we shall continue to get hurt.’
Another tricky tie awaits the Deans this Saturday when they travel to Dartford.
Horndean have never lost to the Kent outfit.
But the newly-promoted division two side have already fired a warning to their rivals after notching up a surprise victory over last season’s division one outfit City of Bristol.
Deans’ head coach Nasser Ssemuwemba acknowledges his team will need to find their feet quickly.
And he suggested a some fresh blood could help.
‘Just like last season, all games at this level are going to be tough encounters,’ he said.
‘We need to get back to winning ways starting this Saturday at Dartford.
‘I think that we’ve got the players to do it but we need to play as a team in order to achieve this goal.
‘I’m planning to improve our squad with a few new faces who will hopefully help us to push for the title.’