Horndean will be fighting to stay in National League division two south after losing to arch-rivals Team Southampton at the Mountbatten Centre.
The Deans were humbled 3-2 for the second game in a row and were again denied victory by a mere two points in another nail-biting fifth-set decider.
It was Team Southampton, through their hard-hitting outside attackers, who stormed out of the blocks first – winning the opening set 25-22.
Horndean then bounced back with tight blocks and all-round solid play from man-of-the-match Willard Hans Shongue to level in the second with a 25-18 win.
Southampton, though, put their noses back in front with a 25-21 triumph in the third.
‘We made a series of individual mistakes in this set,’ said Horndean spiker Festus Nfor, who for the second time this season was forced to set in the absence of playmaker Stuart McCulley.
‘We looked clumsy at the back and were very indecisive at the net.
‘I would rather be up there spiking than setting, to be honest. It’s always a challenge for me when the coach asks me to fill the setter’s boots.
‘But I always do my best and I’m pleased my team-mates always appreciate my efforts when I’m in this role.’
Nfor was on top of his game in the fourth set as he introduced powerful spiker Haakon Lie into the game.
The Norwegian’s high ball hits were a constant menace to Southampton’s defence as they pierced through their disjointed blocks, while middle players Mark Harvey and Shongue doubled up with stinging, floating serves to ensure a 25-17 set victory.
The stage was set for a mouthwatering decider, however, it was Southampton who clinched a 16-14 success to record their first derby win over Horndean.
‘We did all we could do to win this match – even in the absence of Stuart,’ said player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba.
‘All the players gave it their best but it seemed like the harder we tried, the more mistakes we made.
‘We need to be more ruthless when it comes to the deciders.
‘We’ve played five, won two and lost three – two of which by a difference of two points.
‘Our strategy now is to try and win some games in order to stay in the division.’
Next up for Horndean is a trip to Richmond on Saturday, December 8.