Horndean suffered their first defeat in the National League division two south campaign at Cardiff Celts.
They were thrashed 3-0 by the Welsh side after fielding an understrength team due to injuries and an accident on the M4.
The Deans’ head coach Nasser Ssemuwemba felt his depleted team were unlucky to lose in straight sets.
‘We only had seven players available for the Cardiff trip,’ he said.
‘The rest could not travel due to various injuries.
‘Even with those few players, I was still optimistic we would get the result we needed.
‘But four of our players were stuck in a long queue of motor way traffic.
‘Three managed to make it with only a few seconds left before the start of the match, while the fourth only joined in the final set.’
And without a proper warm-up after a long journey, Horndean’s players looked jittery in the opening set at Glamorgan Sports Park.
They struggled to string together meaningful attacks as the hosts dominated play to win the first set 25-19.
On resumption, it was the Deans who started brightly.
Playmaker Stuart McCulley introduced outside attacker Haakon Lie – who won his third MVP – and opposite hitter Edvin Dudinskij into the game.
The duo tormented Cardiff’s defence with powerful hits to help Horndean go into the two mandatory technical time-outs on top.
The Deans looked set to level the match when they stormed into a 22-18 lead thanks to an array of tactical serves.
But Cardiff bounced back with good blocks and back-court hits to triumph 25-23 before sealing victory with a similar score in the third.
‘We let ourselves down in the second set,’ said Deans vice captain Stephen Metherell.
‘That’s the set we had to win to stay in with the chance of winning the match.
‘Once that set slipped through our hands, it was all over – mentally.
‘The lads who travelled to Cardiff tried their best – considering the circumstances.
‘All we can do now, is to regroup and focus on the next match.’
Horndean return to action on Saturday in the National Cup.
They travel to face University College London.