Horndean slumped to the bottom of the National League division two south table after losing to Wessex M2 in straight sets.
Although the Deans huffed and puffed, they lacked a cutting edge to stop their visitors emerging supreme.
They were left to ponder the implications of another ruinous defeat in what is turning in to a bewilderingly-traumatic season.
A negligible return of just two wins from 13 matches has left the Deans’ confidence at rock-bottom and player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba admits the situation is getting desperate.
With relegation rivals Arun-VC and Malory Eagles 2 next up for their second-round encounters, it is a case of now or never for the Deans.
All three teams are tied on 16 points, but Malory who have now replaced the Deans in seventh place, have a game in hand.
Despite the loss, Ssemuwemba is optimistic his side can beat the drop.
He said: ‘There are a lot of things to do and we’re not hiding behind anything.
‘We are on a nightmare run. What started as a poor run of form, has now snow balled into a full-blown crisis.
‘Our season has been cruelly destabilised by work commitments and injuries.
‘Everybody is desperate for a swift turn around and I’m hoping we can get our mojo back starting with the next game away to Arun.
‘If we lose to them, then we surely have no right to stay in the division.
‘We are not going to give up on survival yet. But we must stick together.’
At Priory School, the Deans matched Wessex’s work-rate in the opening set as both teams enjoyed success at the net and backcourt.
But it was the well-drilled visitors who kept composure to win the set 25-23.
However, a catalogue of individual mistakes from the home side later saw Wessex double their lead 25-21.
The Deans responded with solid blocks and well placed serves from Willard-Hans Shongue, Festus Nfor and Matthew Jackson.
But their efforts to stay in the match were eventually extinguished by Wessex who went on to seal victory 25-23.
Ssemuwemba was named man of the match.
The Deans’ next match is away to fellow relegation candidates Arun-VC at Chichester’s Westergate Community School on Sunday April 10 (1pm).