Horndean returned to winning ways with a 3-2 triumph over Malory Eagles in National League division two south on Sunday.
The Deans had to grit their teeth to record their second league win of the campaign in a hard-fought clash with the London outfit.
It was a much-needed success for Horndean, who came into the game on the back of eight consecutive defeats.
Their confidence has been at its lowest ebb since their successful start at Southampton.
But at the Ernest Bevin College court they showed a willingness to win which has been in short supply this season.
The result came courtesy of an incredible fighting spirit shown by a weakened side in London.
The Deans were close to forfeiting the encounter after failing to raise a team because of the last-minute withdrawals of three senior players.
However, University of Portsmouth rookie Eugene Recto was quickly drafted in as a replacement to ensure a team of six players made the trip to Tooting.
Once the match got under way, the Deans put their troubles behind them by storming into an 8-4 lead by the first technical time out.
But the home side later recovered to wrap up the opening set 25-21.
Nasser Ssemuwemba then provided an inspirational performance to bring his side level (25-22) before setter Mat Jackson, Samuel Sawicki, Festus Nfor and Tyler Everitt joined the fray to inspire a 25-23 success in the third.
Malory Eagles then changed their tactics and put the Deans’ service reception unit under pressure. And the move worked as they went on to win the fourth set 28-26 and push the match to a decider.
But after a catalogue of individual errors from both sides, it was the Deans who held their nerve to edge the set 15-13 in a nail-biting encounter that could have gone either way.
Player-coach Ssemuwemba, who was named man-of-the-match, admitted confidence at the club has been fragile but reckoned the win could prove crucial for his troops in their fight to avoid the drop.
He said: ‘To us, this was a relegation six-pointer.
‘It has been a struggle but the lift this win gives us is huge.
‘Not only did we battle past the tallest team in our division but also our relegation rivals.
‘It’s time to get some belief back and together we can fight to beat the drop.
‘I want to thank all six players for their impeccable performances – but especially Recto, who is by far the best on-the-day signing we’ve ever made.
‘We are taking each match at a time and hopefully we shall make it.’
The win springs the Deans up to sixth position, with 14 points – one ahead of their nearest rivals City of Bristol, who have three games in hand.
Horndean’s next match is at Wessex M2 at the LeAf Academy, Bournemouth on Saturday, February 13 (11am).