Horndean continued their magnificent run in National League division two south with a 3-0 victory over Bristol 1 on Saturday.
They used the artistry of setter Leandros Tsikras, the spiking fluency of Marcus Russell and power of outside hitter Maciej Kubis to register their fifth league win of the season.
The blitz of Bristol came on the back of a stunning National Shield triumph over Tendring – and is a fourth win on the trot for the Deans in all competitions.
Bristol had taken the early initiative at Highbury College – with tough jump serves that rattled Horndean’s receivers.
But the Deans quickly levelled at 4-4 before sprinting into a 8-4 lead at the first technical time out.
A combination of solid blocks from Nasser Ssemuwemba and Damian Roberts, plus well-angled back-court attacks from Russell, helped Horndean take set 25-14.
The Deans then carried their velocity into the second set.
But after racing into a 6-1 lead, a catalogue of individual errors allowed the visitors to draw level at 13-13 and force the hosts to take a time out.
Horndean gathered themselves and good defensive play from Benoit Royer helped them to extinguish Bristol’s attacks before Stephen Metherell and Roberts served brilliantly to ensure a 25-21 set victory.
With the Deans eyeing a first straight-sets win of the campaign, nerves crept in.
Bristol moved 7-5 ahead early in the third set – powerful jump serves continuing to petrify the home side’s hapless defence.
Horndean player-coach Ssemuwemba said: ‘We relapsed.
‘And if you do that against a team with so much firepower as Bristol, then you are going to get hurt. That’s what happened at the beginning of that set.’
The Deans changed their shape at the back in order to cope.
And the move paid dividends, as they rediscovered their spark to move into a slender 20-19 lead.
The visitors refused to give up and levelled at 20-20 to set up a tense finale. It was the Deans who converted the big points, though, and sealed victory 25-20.
Greek setter Tsikras picked up his third consecutive man-of-the-match accolade.
‘They are one of the strongest teams in our division and we knew it was going to be a tough match,’ said Russell.
‘We’re pleased we won because it was a high-tempo match that kept us on our toes at all times.
‘We played some good stuff and the thinking process by every player was better than we’ve seen in previous games.
‘The things we’ve been working on during training are beginning to bear fruit.
‘It’s nice to end the year on a winning note and let’s hope our run continues in 2014.’
The Deans’ next game is against New Forest on Saturday, January 4 at Highbury College.