Horndean completed the first half of the National League division two south season with a convincing 3-1 win at Richmond.
In the absence of usual middle players Mark Harvey and Willard Hans Shongue, the Deans had to rely on the outside attacks to demolish their London opponents.
Universal players Nasser Ssemuwemba and Stephen Metherell filled in for the missing men at the Kingston College Arena.
And while they did not present a consistent threat through the middle, they earned Horndean a number of points through good blocks.
‘It is always a big challenge for me when I’m asked to play in the middle,’ said Metherell.
‘When I found out our quick attackers were missing, I knew the coach was going to ask me to play there.
‘But I was very proud with my contribution and ecstatic about the blocks I managed to make – including a rare one-armed effort against their most powerful hitter.’
The return to the fold of playmaker Stuart McCulley was a timely boost for Horndean, while Daniel Debrov made his debut.
And they looked lively right from the start, with hard spiker Maciej Kubis on top form as his side blitzed to a 25-23 win in the first set.
Richmond then raised their game to clinch the second 25-22, before Horndean were back in front.
Half-metre ball attacks above the net and jump serves from opposite player Stoyan Yuriev saw them triumph 25-17 in the third set.
The Deans were determined to avoid another final-set decider – with the coaches urging them to keep their cool.
‘We’ve been on this road before and not had much success when the game has slipped into five sets,’ explained Kubis.
‘The message was aimed at reminding the players to keep calm and focused – even when under pressure.’
And they did just that, with Norwegian hitman Haakon Lie constantly pounding the Richmond defence on the way to a 25-23 success.
‘We knew we had to be at our best in order to win,’ said man-of-the-match Lie.
‘It was lovely to see everybody support each other and it was a perfect way to end the first half of our season and reduce the pressure of being dragged into a relegation battle.’
Horndean’s next game a home clash with Norfolk in the men’s shield on January 5.