Horndean slumped to their third successive defeat as they were beaten 3-1 by Exeter Storm in National League division two south.
It was another hard lesson for the Deans, who were unfortunate to start the match a set down (25-0) after arriving at Riverside Leisure Centre a few minutes late because of traffic hold-ups caused by the Exeter City versus Crawley football match.
Their misery increased when sixth player Dariusz Koziel failed to make the trip, leaving the hapless team on the brink of a forfeit.
But a good Samaritan by the name of Kiran Tamang stepped up to the plate and rescued the situation.
Although the Devon-based player had little volleyball experience, Deans player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba did not hesitate to quickly sort out his on-the-day emergency registration with the referees.
When the action finally got under way, it was the home team who blasted their way into a blistering 8-1 lead.
It seemed as if the visitors were in for a thrashing as they struggled to brush off fatigue caused by their misfortunes and long journey. In clear need of changing the tide, the Deans tinkered with their positioning in order to favourably accommodate their new player.
But even a mini-revival – engineered by Steve Kamdem Lewe’s ferocious attacks – was not enough to stop Exeter from doubling their advantage with a 25-22 set win.
Buoyed by their late performance in the second set, the Deans kept pressuring their opponents with a combination of tactical serves and a dazzling display from Festus Nfor. The stand-in playmaker swiftly turned setting into attack – which always caught Exeter’s blockers napping – en route to his side’s 25-23 triumph in the third set.
Despite Willard Hans Shongue’s man-of-the-match showing and Tyler Everitt’s good blocking, Exeter soon regained their composure to record their first win over the Deans with an emphatic 25-11 fourth set victory.
Shongue said: ‘It was one of those days when everything seemed to be going horribly wrong for us.
‘The only positive from the trip was we got ourselves a new future player.
‘Tamang, who volunteered to play for us, is the legend.
‘Without him, the match would not have gone ahead.
‘All I can say to our players at this difficult time is not to panic. It’s still early in the season.
‘We have been so unlucky that we’ve not had the chance yet to have all our strong players available on a single match day.
‘Physically, I think we are okay because we are the only team in our division that has so far played all our matches without a substitute.
‘We know where we are supposed to be as a team and will soon bounce back.’
Horndean, who have won just once so far, face another tricky trip this Sunday – when they visit the league’s unbeaten leaders, Cardiff, at the University of South Wales (2pm).